SP-Congress Alliance Gives Cold Shoulder to Ajit Singh's RLD?
Post the Muzaffarnagar riots there is little space for the RLD in the emerging alliances in the run up to the elections in Uttar Pradesh
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
Attempts to whip up a grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh (UP) have hit a new roadblock.
There are reports that the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which was aspiring to be a part of the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, could be left out. A report published by a daily newspaper quoted Samajwadi Party (SP) Vice-President Kiranmoy Nanda as ruling out any alliance with the RLD.
Though the SP and Congress have not shared any details of their seat arrangement, many of the seats that would have been allocated to the RLD may now go to the Congress. Sources claimed that the Congress may get upwards of 130 seats in the alliance.
Previous reports had stated that the RLD was engaged in talks with BJP President Amit Shah for a tieup. Latest reports indicate that those talks have collapsed. Getting the RLD on its side could have helped the BJP in exposing the cracks in the anti-BJP alliance.
The main reason why the RLD is being given a cold shoulder by the SP and the Congress is that the party's electoral support took a plunge in the Lok Sabha elections that were held a year after the 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar. Their voter base that comprised of Jats and Muslims was torn apart. Also, there is a growing view that Muslims will not vote for any party that represents or fields Jats. The Congress and SP, which are leaning heavily on the support of the minorities and those hurt by demonetisation, don't want to make a move that can jeopardise their political cause.
Reports said that the Congress and SP had already agreed on the seat numbers but the RLD was apparently demanding around 30 seats, which was not acceptable to other factions. As per the reports, the SP was ready to give 85 seats to the Congress and around 15 to the RLD. The confusion has led to a delay in the announcement of seats and a joint campaign strategy for Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Though claims were being made that the alliance would be similar to the grand alliance of Bihar which prevented the BJP from coming to power, but for the past two days, there has been a deadlock over seat sharing between the parties. A clear picture is likely to emerge within 24 hours and by tomorrow morning, the alliance may be formalised.
As just four days remain for the filing of nominations for the first phase of polling which ends on January 24, the probable candidates of these parties are having restless days of uncertainty. A
senior SP leader told UNI here today that party president Akhilesh Yadav will wait for this evening and if nothing is sorted out then he will announce the candidates and the formal alliance announcement would be made during the joint campaigning in western UP.
"A section of the SP leaders is not much interested in going with the RLD as it could affect the Muslim vote bank in western UP. Besides, Jats too are not supportive of RLD as during the riots of 2013, Ajit
Singh had avoided them," another SP leader said. Akhilesh Yadav today met Sibutullah Ansari, Rahguraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya and several others to chalk out his strategy and finalise the candidates' list.
Another report said that an irked Mulayam Singh Yadav was unwilling to be part of the party campaign after SP's cycle symbol was handed over to Akhilesh and that he might even skip it if the new SP president refuses to give tickets to his close confidants. Mulayam had given a list of 38 candidates to Akhilesh yesterday to be included in his list. It has been reported that party leaders have finalised the list for the first two phases of the elections.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was slated to visit Lucknow to announce the alliance, has cancelled his air tickets thrice from New Delhi due to the deadlock in talks with the RLD. Now there is speculation that Azad will be reaching Lucknow this evening and the formal announcement of an alliance will be made later in the night or tomorrow morning.
The Congress had demanded at least one seat each from 75 districts plus most of the seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli districts which is creating a problem for the SP as it will have to lose some crucial
seats in order to accommodate the Congress. Sources said the Congress was demanding a seat from Lucknow which was agreeable to the SP. "Congress had one sitting member at Lucknow Cantonment but candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi had joined the BJP. Congress Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh wanted the seat for his wife Amita. But the SP wanted the seat for Aparna Yadav, wife of Pratik, the youngest son of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Amita is now set to be shifted to Lucknow (East) seat," a senior Congress leader told this agency.
The SP has agreed to the Congress demand to give all the seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli except those of two ministers: Gayatri Prasad Prajati from Amethi seat and Manoj Kumar Pandey from Uchahar seat.
In the 2012 assembly elections, the Congress failed to win even a single seat in Rae Bareli but won one from Amethi. However, the lone Congress MLA too joined the BSP last year. The Central election screening committee of the Congress has also finalised its list but there is confusion over how many seats the party will contest.
Inputs from (UNI)